Left: Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, chief of staff of the Jamaica Defence Force, demits office later this month. Right: Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas is expected to leave office by year end. - Photos by Rudolph Brown/Chief Photographer
WITHIN THE next two months, Jamaica will experience changes in the security directorate.
Already, one such change has been confirmed, with Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, chief of staff of the Jamaica Defence Force, retiring and handing over command, effective October 27.
"The Defence Board has approved the appointment of Colonel Stewart Emerson St. Leonard Saunders, the current colonel general staff, to the rank of major general and to succeed Rear Admiral Lewin as chief of staff," a statement from the Ministry of National Security said yesterday.
In a matter of weeks
Meanwhile, sources close to The Gleaner have confirmed that Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas is expected to follow suit. With speculatio in recent weeks over the timing of Commissioner Thomas' exit, one of his trusted lieutenants told The Gleaner yesterday that he will leave the JCF within weeks.
Noel Hylton, chairman of the Police Services Commission, expressed surprise at the revelation when quizzed by The Gleaner, conceding that the resignation of the police commissioner would have an impact on the force.
"That is something I would have to take to the Services Commission and discuss," Mr. Hylton said.
The Police Federation, however, said it hoped Commissioner Thomas would stay on.
Thomas to serve full term
"I am aware that a lot of media speculation has started, but the Jamaica Police Federation and the entire rank and file are expecting this commissioner to serve the full term of his contract and we wouldn't mind if he is given an extension," said Corporal Hartley Stewart, general secretary of the body representing rank-and-file police personnel.
Commissioner Thomas was appointed to the post in January 2005 and was contracted to February 2009.
"We are not at this point in time contemplating that (Commissioner Thomas' retirement), it is not a good thing to contemplate. We believe we have some way to go with this commissioner. We believe he has started an important body of work to be completed, so we are not looking beyond him at the moment" said Corporal Stewart.
Noel Eldridge, of the National Firearm Licensing Authority, while not commenting on the police commissioner's impending exit, said he had done good work despite the circumstances, including a high crime rate, corruption in the police force, and regular accusations of police excess.
"The office of the commissioner is a very difficult one, particularly in recent times ... ," Mr. Eldridge said. "You have to evaluate all the variables and, if I do that, then I would have to say the commissioner has given that office the best of his ability."